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1871 is Chicago’s entrepreneurial hub for digital startups. Located in the famed Merchandise Mart, the 120,000-square-foot facility provides Chicago startups with programming, access to mentors, educational resources, potential investors and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs that help them on their path to building successful businesses. 1871 is the flagship project of the CEC.

In the summer of 2011, when 1871 was still just an aspiration, the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center convened Chicago’s most distinguished entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, educators, and government officials to participate in a Brand Summit and define the purpose of our city’s new tech center. Amidst the flurry of inspired thinking and heightened passion, there arose a very simple idea:


And from this seed of an idea came the inspiration for the name 1871. Like the Great Chicago Fire of that year, 1871 would also serve as a catalytic and transformative part of our city’s history. Our space would be a place that would enable Chicago to emerge as a major center of technology, not just in the U.S., but the world – with 1871 at the core.

1871 utilizes two types of logos in perpetuating the brand: The Plate and The Stencil.

The Plate is a symbol of exploring, getting your hands dirty, and making it happen. It’s not a vision. It’s a tool. It’s a blank slate – ready for action.

The Stencil, however, can take many forms. The Stencil reflects 1871’s ability to adapt as a continuously evolving digital technology hub for entrepreneurs. We don’t know what the future will hold, but we will create it, and we will adapt; 1871’s logo will always be relevant as it evolves alongside the course of history.

There are hundreds of versions of the 1871 logo, which are variations of the Stencil. Stencil logos take form through hand made treatments, photographic underlays, and textual patterns that act as a window showing our vision for 1871 and Chicago.


Beginning on 1871’s second anniversary on May 2, 2014, the organization began debuting commemorative new logos in honor of landmark events or special guests. We’ve displayed these logos on our Honorary Logos page for the community’s viewing. In creating and presenting these logos, we have an opportunity to mark our history and important moments as an organization and create lasting memories of these special events, all of which are designed for the purpose of the organization – to foster technology growth and opportunity throughout Chicago.


While the plate logo is timeless and stands on its own, we’ve curated a sample collection of 1871’s ever-transforming logos in our Logo Gallery. Feel free to peruse them and pick out your favorites – if you can.